Parent Cafés

The more you come, the more like family you become.
— Parent, Missouri Project LAUNCH


In 2007, the Parent Café process was developed by parent leaders from Strengthening Families Illinois to design a parent-to-parent way to bring the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors to families.

The Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors are:

  • Resilience: Parent Resilience

  • Relationships: Positive Social Connections

  • Support: Concrete Support in Times of Need

  • Knowledge: Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

  • Communication: Social and Emotional Competence

Parent Cafés are physically and emotionally safe spaces where parents and caregivers talk about the challenges and victories of raising a family. Through individual deep self-reflection and peer-to-peer learning, participants explore their strengths, learn about the Protective Factors, and create strategies from their own wisdom and experiences to help strengthen their families.

Cafés are structured discussions that use the principles of adult learning and family support. They are highly sustainable with training reinforcement, institutional support, and a commitment to an approach that engages and affirms parents as leaders. Participants leave Parent Cafés feeling inspired, energized, and excited to put into practice what they’ve learned.

What I love about Cafés are that they set the tone from the beginning that everyone is equal... Everybody is learning, and everyone feels comfortable to open up.
— Parent Leader, Consejo de Padres en Acción, California

Evolving and Evaluating Parent Cafés


At Be Strong Families, we continue to take Parent Cafés to the next level. The Be Strong Families Parent Café model has touched thousands of families through Race to the Top Early Learning Grants, SAMHSA Project Launch Grants, Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention initiatives, Child Welfare Systems, Family Resource and Support Centers, Early Childhood Development Centers, and other school- and community-based initiatives.

  • Parent Cafés (always bilingual in English and Spanish) have been adapted and translated into Chinese, Swahili, French, and Arabic.

  • Dads Cafés provide the foundation for Parent Cafés with fatherhood themes.

  • A More Perfect Union Parent Cafés allow parents to explore the broader context for parenting in a complicated and often unjust world.

  • Vitality Cafés provide a deeper dive into how parents can take care of themselves across six Vitality domains: physical, mental & emotional, spiritual, social, financial, and environmental.

What did we learn? To love ourselves more in order to better love others.
— Parent, Strengthening Families Maryland / Maryland Family Network

Get Involved

CONTACT US to learn more and bring Parent Cafés to your area, or for a list of Parent Café Workshops and Trainings, visit our SERVICES→

Parent Café In A Box

To purchase Parent Café in a Box from our online shop, check out our RESOURCES→

Café Community of Practice

If you have been trained by BSF to host Cafés in your community, join our closed Café Community of Practice Facebook Group.

Parent Café Evaluation

To be part of our national Parent Café Evaluation effort, click here to learn more or email

...I wasn’t that patient and didn’t have lots of ways to deal with children other than yelling or [threatening].  I didn’t know to just take a good ten seconds before I react to anything, and then to ... just listen, rather than going into a rage.
— Parent, California Project LAUNCH, First 5 Alameda County and Oakland Parents Together

What Else are people saying about Parent Cafés?


“[The Café] opened my eyes toward my own issues.”

- Birth Parent, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

“It was wonderful to listen to others who have experience some of the same things that I have experienced and learn that other foster parents share the same experience and concerns.”

- Foster Parent, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

“Soy una persona tímida. Los cafés me ayudan a conocer a otros padres. Escucho mucho en las mesas. Estoy construyendo mi capacidad para compartir mis opiniones.”

- Parent, Panorama City and Neighbors, California

“The Café was very informative. I met a great staff member and it made me comfortable to communicate with staff.”

- Birth Parent, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

“I learned how to deal with unhappiness by shopping and eating with friends. I now know how to use strategies to problem solve for problems like bad mood, loss of employment, and loss of housing.”

- Parent, First 5 San Francisco, California (Chinese Parent Café) 

“I see other parents drop their kids off at school and I never used to talk to them, now we are friends.”

– Parent, Panorama City and Neighbors, California

“I was raised a certain way, but through Cafés, I’m learning and practicing a better way. I’m being the person I want to be, coming from my heart.”

- Parent Leader, Consejo de Padres en Acción, California

“Ser anfitriona de mesa, fue una experiencia única porque me gusta servir y orientar a las personas con las que convivo y espero haber sido útil en ello.”

- Parent Leader, Consejo de Padres en Acción, California

“Parent Cafés gave me support in caring for my son who has autism. And I can help other people who are just starting on their journey of caring for an autistic child. I want to feel like a pillar in my community as someone who helps other people who are struggling. My way to do this is through Parent Cafés.”

- Parent Leader, Consejo de Padres en Acción, California